Top Ramen gets in on fake C-suite job trend with Chief Noodle Officer search

Dive Brief:

  • Nissin Foods, the company behind brands including Top Ramen, announced its search for a Chief Noodle Officer. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Top Ramen has partnered with “Top Chef All-Stars L.A.” winner Melissa King to kick off a national search for candidates.
  • Noodle enthusiasts are encouraged to post images of their custom recipes, favorite toppings and memories surrounding Top Ramen by using the #HowDoYouTopRamen hashtag and tagging the company on social media. Applicants must also send links of their social content with a three-to-five sentence cover letter to [email protected] to be considered, per contest rules.
  • One winner will receive $10,000, a 50-year supply of Top Ramen, a chance to preview new products before they are sold and a “one-to-one mentorship” with Nissin Foods President and CEO Mike Price. The campaign is the latest effort based around a light-hearted C-suite position and comes amid the continued economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dive Insight:

Nissin’s search for a Chief Noodle Officer looks to generate social media conversation around the packaged foods marketer and engage consumers with a financial incentive as the pandemic continues to upend the economy.

The campaign comes as many Americans navigate unemployment and broader societal uncertainties due to the health crisis. It not only offers a $10,000 prize, but also a chance for a one-to-one professional mentorship with Nissin’s CEO. The selected candidate will receive advice from Price and the opportunity to taste new products from the company and share feedback and recipe ideas,

Nissin stands alongside marketers like AB In-Bev in hiring consumers to occupy novel C-suite roles during the pandemic. In August, Bud Light Seltzer sought a “chief meme officer” at a pay rate of $5,000 per month to curate memes for its fledgling alcohol brand, which competes in a crowded category that includes heavy hitters like White Claw. Last month, sister brewer Michelob Ultra offered to pay a “chief experience officer” a six-month salary of $50,000 to travel across the country — a promotion that recognized a growing desire for travel and experiences that have otherwise largely been cut off due to COVID-19.

In kind, the Chief Noodle Officer stands as a lighthearted concept that could spur fans and followers to share posts associated with Nissin brands. By asking applicants to share photos with its #HowDoYouTopRamen hashtag, the marketer can build a library of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is an inexpensive way for brands to maintain their marketing output during the coronavirus pandemic, but brands must keep consumer preferences in mind to be effective with this approach.

Products like instant ramen saw a surge in sales in the early days of the pandemic as consumers stockpiled shelf-stable food, and CPG companies are now looking for ways to build on increased demand as behaviors stabilize. The Nissin campaign closely follows a Kraft Mac & Cheese campaign that used a tactic — riffing on the distinction between “send nudes” and “send noods” — that Nissin tried two years ago.

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